May I introduce myself?

Did you know that there are over one and a half million podcasts in the world? Even if you have no idea what a podcast is you’ll probably agree that one and a half million sounds like a lot.

But I’m going to explain why one and a half million podcasts is actually a surprisingly small number. I will also explain what a podcast is!

My name is Andrew Laws. I am an SEO professional and a ‘creative type’. In my experience the creativity feeds the SEO, and vice versa.

When deciding whether I should write a blog post introducing myself I pondered what might be an unusual or interesting fact about myself that might serve a broad, but concise introduction to my life. I think I found one.

Despite the fact I have just told you my name is Andrew Laws, I am in fact known to some people by an entirely different name. For at least twenty years half the people who I am fortunate enough to be acquainted with know me as ‘Andrew Culture’.

Why is that, you may ask? I am a musician, and have always been fairly active on the music scene. For many years it was commonplace to refer to fellow musicians in part by the name of the bands they were in. For example, a good friend of mine called Rikki Richardson was known as ‘Rikki Flag’, on account of being the singer of a band called ‘Red Flag 77’.

This naming convention is a little bit like including someone’s postcode in their name. Although only a ‘little bit’ like that.

I played bass guitar in a band called Junk Culture, so my name was ‘Andrew Culture’. The name persisted, but fortunately for anyone with ears, and a sensitive disposition, the band did not persist.

The name stuck like glue. The name ‘Andrew Culture’ was not of my making, but it is a name that I’ve used as a stage name and pen name for a long time.

I also thought I ought to explain the name issue because it is a part of the main topic of this blog post — the joy of podcasting.

So what is podcasting? There is a long-winded technical explanation for that question, but the simple explanation is that a podcast is ‘audio content’. That’s it. Podcasts usually consist of a lot of talking, but there are some music based podcasts.

So podcasts are a bit like radio, but with one key difference. You have an active choice to make when choosing what shows you wish to listen to. With the radio you turn on, tune in and (sometimes, if you’re like me, nod off).

When choosing podcasts there is a dizzying array of choices available. So choosing a collection of podcasts for your very own ‘curated radio station’ can be challenging.

If you are interested in diving into the world of podcasts, or even just dipping your toes into the water, then I recommend asking friends for recommendations. Or you can use Google. Just type in a subject you’re interested in, followed by the word ‘podcast’.

Most people listen to podcasts using free podcast apps, or ‘platforms’ as they are also known. Popular podcast apps include Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Once you listen to one podcast episode the platform you’re using will automatically suggest other podcasts to listen to.

So what does the world of podcasts have to do with me?

I am a fairly prolific podcaster. I currently podcast in two distinct flavours; the work podcast and the personal podcast.

So what compelled me to start my own podcast?

As a whole in life I’m interested in any medium that allows people to have a voice that does not need to be approved by a committee or a big money brand manager.

My fascination with what some might call ‘alternative networks’ started when I fell into being a musician. Back when I first started being called ‘Andrew Culture’. I realised that unless I somehow became a famous musician (and therefore had my music controlled by a record label), then I could create music with total freedom.

I am both happy and sad to report that my musical career has, to date, been untroubled by popularity.

In addition to making music I have also spent a lot of time writing about it. A lot of this work has been published in underground music magazines, affectionately known as ‘zines’.

So when podcasting appeared as a ‘thing’ I guess the opportunity to ‘have my say’ without the need for editorial or commercial approval was too much much for me to resist!

But how much appetite in the world is there for podcasts? Who would want to listen to a broadcasting medium with such a low barrier to entry that it could be called the ‘limbo dancing of modern media’?

I could investigate the slightly esoteric appeal of podcasting, but instead I’m going to end this talk by illustrating the power of podcasting appeal by comparing it with another modern medium — blogging.

2.75 million blog posts are published per day and an estimated 43 million people read blogs every day. So split evenly that would be roughly 15 readers for every blog post.

Do you remember that I mentioned that there are one and a half million podcasts in the world? In the USA alone an estimated 164 million people listen to podcasts at least once a week. Split evenly that’s 109 listeners per podcast.

Put simply, the appetite for podcasts is HUGE.

That is just one of the reasons I love podcasting. The other reasons? You’ll have to listen to the Andrew Culture podcast to find out!

This blog post is an adapted version of an Ice Breaker speech given by me at a Toastmasters International meeting on Thursday 22nd October 2020

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